Sunday, 29 October 2017

The Battle of Seleukeia : Blood in the Sand

In the previous instalment of Blood in the Sand King Bamdada and his Pamphylian army had narrowly been able to force their way across the River Calycadnus. Heading down the valley his army now reinforced with wild mountain tribesmen hired as mercenaries has the reached the lower valley above the city of Seleukeia itself. Here amidst the rocky foothills and meandering streams the Tyrant Shabaan El Shabazz has drawn up the might of the Cilician army.
Map showing the advance of the two armies
The Great King Bamdada on his war chariot the temple of Seleukeia in the distance
El-shabazz has placed much of his Cilician cavalry on high ground to his left
An overview of the battlefield, Pamphylians on the right, the temple of Seleukeia in the foreground. 
The golden statue of Tarku in the middle, the bridge in the distance is the third objective for both armies. The rivers are crossable by everything except Chariots but they hinder charges and slow movement. There are three quite rocky hills which break the battlefield up.
The Cilician centre stretching into the distance rank upon rank of infantry, some with bows some with Pikes !
The Pamphylian right flank is held by mercenaries, wild tribes from the mountains, but the king has placed his Royal Cavalry on the right as well in case the mercenaries flee ?
The Pamphylian left flank 
The battle immediately starts to break up into three sections here the two armies close to contest the temple
Pamphylian heavy scythed Chariots, the skirmishers seem in some disarray let’s hope they sort themselves out !
The Cilician right flank is dominated by a large contingent of Chariots which sweep off the hill.......
and crash into the massed infantry.
Luckily the infantry have support behind them
A shot looking down the whole battlefield, in the centre things are quiet but the fight on the left is drawing troops away leaving the centre dangerously weak for the Pamphylians.
Reserves from the centre being dragged towards the left including the king himself.
On the far side of the battlefield the fanatics and other tribesmen have rushed across the river without adequate support and they are immediately crushed by cavalry charging down the hill.
The charge of the Cilician cavalry...
Whilst the Heavy cavalry gradually moves into position they let the mercenaries take the brunt of the action, after all the less that sepurvive the less the king will have to pay, 
A shot from behind the Heavy cavalry, they can see even more Cilician Cavalry up on the hill they hold their position as the tribesmen hack their way across the river
In the centre, it is mainly a battle of long range missile troops the King pushes forward two units of Javelin men but they are gradually picked off by arrow fire.,,,,but he has a plan to keep the centre busy whilst his other troops push around on the flanks, of course this plan will only work if they are actually able to take the flanks and things are not longing promising !
The King pulls forward his most powerful reserves......
The mountain tribesmen used to fighting in the hills manage to break through and attack all the way up the hill,  but it is an obvious mistake and despite pushing the cavalry back they are blown and eventually the remnants flee back off the hill
The centre of main Cilician line is only now starting to move, content to fire its arrows at long range, El-shabazz seen here on the right has realised that the enemy attacks in the centre are in fact feints and the pressure on both flanks is the move too late ?
Pamphylian Infantry is still streaming forward 
The clash by the temple last almost all day Chariots crashing into Chariots and infantry repulsing numerous charges
Content to hold his ground King Bamdada continues to feed troops to the flank, the enemy can be seen starting to cross the river en mass
In the furious battle around the temple horse archers and light cavalry exchange missiles
Finally seeing the mercenary tribesmen break the Heavy cavalry charge catching the Cilician cavalry off guard and at the bottom of the hill or in the river bed, the contest is short and the ‘heavies’ reform to move up the hill.
The charge of the heavy cavalry !
King Bamdada looks on worriedly at his left flank undecided whether to commit his remaining infantry as he will have nothing left in the centre
As the remnants of the mercenaries stream away, they are unlikely to get paid now, the two units of heavy cavalry have regrouped and charge up the hill supported by the horse archers who have reformed and also crossed the river........sudden the left flank of the Cilician is looking vulnerable and 
El-shabazz’s look of confidence has changed to one of concern !
The heavy cavalry steam up the hill pushing the remaining light cavalry away and suddenly the whole of the Cilician left flank is exposed to them
The massed Cilician Infantry continue to advance unaware at this stage of their danger....
The king now back on the hill can see in the distance the opportunity is close if he can just hold the centre long enough 
The cavalry reform on the hill, they have started to get tired (pick up wounds) but the infantry at the bottom of the hill look terrified at the prospect of being charged down hill 
On the left flank the Pamphylians start to push forward their remaining light cavalry it is all or nothing and they must distract the enemy long enough for the heavy cavalry to close the trap
A cry goes up on the Cilician left ‘we are undone the enemy are behind us’ no longer sure where they should go more infantry moves across the river trying to escape the cavalry thundering down for the hill the whole of the Cilician army is being squeezed into a smaller and smaller pocket on the Dong side of the river.
The cavalry have charged down the hill and are easily able to cut down one then another infantry unit caught out unsupported as their support streams away across the river
The trap begins to close and skirmish troops start to whittle the Cilician down from a distance
Almost the end of the battle the heavy cavalry has reached the bottom of the hill and the whole of the flank has been turned suddenly El-shabazz realises the danger ...............
As darkness falls he can be seen issuing the final orders to his commander to pull the remaining units back across the river, they are only just in time as both flanks are now turned and there is a danger the whole army will be wiped out.
With the withdrawal under darkness of the enemy the Pamphylians camp on the field of battle, they are too tired to pursue and will need several days to prepare to advance.....but as a final desecration the King order the statue of Tarku to be pulled down his troops can be seen clearing in the background. It will make a nice centre piece back in his palace in Pelegi. 

What can we say....about that. At lunchtime the battle was over for the Pamphylians as they were unable to turn either flank and they were massively outnumbered in the centre. Then the dice gods changed and they managed to win through against the odds. An absolutely tremendous day of gaming...thank you Martin.......a battlefield covered in figures and plenty of twists and turns. It has of course set up the next battle nicely.......πŸ˜€
A final shot of El-shabazz surveying his forces, this is around lunchtime when the Cilician still looked very much in control of the battle πŸ˜€


  1. One of our best. The persian king will send his African army to support the Cilicians.

  2. Grand stuff, you can never predict the whims of the dice gods.
    Like the B&W pics, reminiscent of the Battle of Trimsos in Don Featherstones Wargames.

    1. I did have some impressive dice challenges early on ! As for Trimsos this was the book which got me started many years ago, I spent many hours imagining ancient battles sweeping across the desert. It is fair to say my Blood in the Sand Campaigns owes pretty much everything to my childhood dreams based on that one single battle.

  3. With both flanks turned and a river at his back, El-Shabazz was lucky to get away with his head still attached! Looked like a tense game throughout.

    Good stuff, Matt!

    1. By the skin of his was fun by lunchtime it was all going one way then the afternoon it flipped around. Sets up the next battle nicely. πŸ˜€

  4. Absolutely stunning! Epic in every way possible.

    1. Thanks Michael the overall grandeur owes just a tiny debt to Charlton Heston πŸ˜€

  5. Looking very, very interesting. Thank You for a report Matt :)
    warm regards

  6. Epic sword and sandals battle, see sawing one way then another and both armies look great as does the statue and temple!
    Best Iain

    1. Thanks Iain it is encouraging me to keep making and painting more πŸ˜€

  7. Splendid, just splendid! Oh, and the dice gods figured so prominently as well!

    1. Thanks David these games have a certain feel of pure indulgence and are such fun to play πŸ™‚

  8. An immersive and atmospheric report Matt, this table is awesome, and the armies gorgeous...what a pleasure, a real feast for our eyes!

    1. Thanks Phil....all I need to do now is some moving pictures πŸ˜€